April 2008

The stated objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is to achieve “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The most problematic aspect of this mandate is the open definition of ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference.’ Given that we have […]


Forgetting my cell phone charger in Toronto has already resulted in a week of weak connectivity. It need not be so. While it must be a gold mine for cell phone shops and manufacturers, the absurd proliferation of charger types is clearly an anti-competitive practice. A government keen to protect consumers and boost overall economic […]


If my aim is to make a positive impact on the emerging climate crisis, the least productive possible use of my time is spending 5-6 years in the U.S. doing a PhD in political science or international relations. It could be argued that the best use would be getting an engineering degree. Then, I could […]


People frequently mention how, in the 17th and 18th century, lobster was so abundant in the eastern United States that it was used as a staple food for orphans, servants, and prisoners. Supposedly, Massachusetts passed a law restricting it to being served at most twice a week. In the era of lobster scarcity, this seems […]


Spring 2008 beard progression: February 17th: essentially beardless March 11th: first evidence of beardedness March 20th March 30th April 5th: moderately shaggy April 13th: beard, pack, and toque April 21st April 24th: bearded and leaping from trees What might the future hold?


The European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) has recently announced results confirming that the long-term regulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is largely a geological phenomenon. Carbon dioxide is naturally introduced into the atmosphere through volcanic activity and naturally removed through the weathering of rock and the deposition of carbon-laden rock in […]

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The city of Ottawa is quite well provisioned with public art. Some pieces, like the wooden spiral in the park near the mint, are quite charming. The piece above, located in the US embassy compound, is probably the worst of the lot. As you can see, the sculpture looks a bit like a balloon animal […]


Robert Rapier, a petroleum engineer and blogger, recently posted an ‘Open Letter to Our Next President.’ He has recently been doing a good job of showing why ideas like a summer gas tax holiday or suing OPEC for the right to buy oil at the price we want are wrong-headed popularity stunts. He has also […]


While sleeping off fever, I had a surprisingly coherent and well developed dream. If anyone wants to turn it into a Major Motion Picture Event, they can contact me about the rights. It begins with a medium-sized dry cleaning shop in an American town dominated by a huge army base. The shop is struggling because […]


Positive feedbacks are one of the most worrisome aspects of climate change. Viscious spirals could make controlling the problem far more difficult and, if we wait too long to act, potentially impossible to deal with. A new article in Nature suggests that the pine beetle epidemic in British Columbia has turned the forests there into […]